Formula Fairness Campaign Gaining Momentum

Last Updated: March 27, 2010

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

The campaign to bring fairness to the Title I funding formulas is gaining strength and attention. Nearly a thousand visitors have already logged on to the website at, and nearly 200 people have signed the petition to fix the formulas.

If you haven’t signed the petition, please do so today and encourage your friends and colleagues to sign, too.

Title I is the primary federal funding system to improve educational opportunities for the nation’s poorest students. Since 2002 more funding per student has gone to larger districts, including those with low levels of poverty, than to smaller districts, many with very high poverty rates.

This disparity is the result of “number weighting,” which gives more money per Title I eligible child in large districts where there are higher numbers of eligible students. Most districts with higher percentages of eligible students don’t get the same benefits. In fact, almost all rural districts and many small high poverty city school districts lose Title I funding because of number weighting.

For example, Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the wealthiest school districts in the country, has a poverty rate of 5.7% and gets $1,935 per Title I eligible child. But a child in one of the 900 poorest rural districts, where the average poverty rate is 37%, gets just $1,476.

Poor rural children and their schools are directly subsidizing large affluent districts like Fairfax. That’s because Title I is a shared funding pool. When one district gets more funding, another gets less. The shift of funding from smaller poorer districts to larger less poor districts amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is a chance to address this fundamental unfairness with the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main federal education legislation, which also governs Title I.

The Obama administration has announced it will seek ESEA re-authorization this year.

That makes convincing congress to fix the Title I formulas a very timely matter, indeed.

As a subscriber to RPM you will get updates from the Formula Fairness Campaign. If you wish, you can unsubscribe to the updates without compromising your RPM subscription; just follow instructions on the campaign update.

Also, be sure to check out the Formula Fairness page on Facebook and register as a fan of the site. You can visit the page here.

To learn more about the administration’s goals for the re-authorization of ESEA (no mention of the Title I formulas, by the way) read the RPM take on Blueprint for Reform, here.

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.